The Importance of Community
All my life I’ve heard the phrase “it takes a village” from the mouths of parents working hard to raise well-balanced kiddos. The meaning of the phrase never hit home for me until I became a parent myself and realized just how much we rely on family members, neighbors, daycare teachers… all of those folks that help us care for and mold our children.
In my professional life, I’ve found that a village, or community, is just as important as it is in my personal life. But building a community professionally isn’t always as intuitive or easy as it may be on the home-front.
Many times, the building of a village in your personal life comes from necessity. When parents struggle to maintain a work/life balance, many of us reach out to our village to lend a hand with babysitting or carpooling. When a meeting runs late and interferes with swimming lessons, a quick text to my “village people” allows me to finish up at work and still get the kids to the pool on time. Crisis averted.
But is it necessary to have a community at work? I’d argue it is. The threat of a tantrum isn’t nearly as likely around the water cooler as it is at home, but when you spend eight or more hours a day with your colleagues, you’re bound to run into situations where you may need to rely on someone in a pinch, or bounce ideas off of someone that shares your same views, or, challenges them. When you find your professional community, you’ll likely begin to feel more appreciated and valued, and that translates into increased productivity. Translation: a good community will help you perform like a rock star.
Finding your professional community may be easier said than done. Branching out and befriending colleagues isn’t second nature for all of us. Here are some tips to help you find your tribe:
- Take a look at your own team. Whether you work in a team of two or 200, you already have common goals with these folks, and your success is their success. Be a team player, encourage your colleagues, facilitate or participate in team building exercises. Be a champion.
- Be an extrovert. Even if you aren’t, force yourself to start a conversation with someone whom you wouldn’t normally speak. Live outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s only once per day. Great things happen when we step outside of our comfort zones.
- Join groups. If your company hosts diversity groups, philanthropy opportunities or employee engagement councils, join them! You’ll find talented, driven people within these organizations who you’ll want to have in your community. If your employer doesn’t offer these things, be a pioneer and forge the way!
Too often relying on others is viewed as a weakness. Remove those thoughts from your head. It takes a much stronger person to ask for help or guidance than someone who believes they can do it all on their own. Reach out, learn, grow and rely on your community–do this and you’ll soon see success in both your personal and professional lives.